Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Archive for the category “Writing”

BUJO – The Art of Bullet Journaling

Yeah, I’ve bitten the bullet. I’m slowly adapting some of the practices of bujo into my own journal-keeping.

See, I have a friend, Debbie, who introduced me to bujo because she was successfully using it. She knows I’m a big journal fan, so she thought I would find it interesting. I started reading up on it, and it sounded like an awful lot of effort for a very small return, but I kept reading.

As I read, I realized several things. First, I realized that I had sort of been doing a pre-cursor to bujo for a couple of decades. Whenever I started a new paper journal, I would number the pages, and rule off the back three sheets (both sides) for a table of contents (ToC). I would then note in the journal the start date and – when done with it – the end date. I also number the books themselves. (I had a friend who went even further and gave each of her journals a name, but that was more effort than I was up for.)

After that, and as I kept reading, I realized that the whole damned point of bujo was not to make my journal look like anyone else’s (Washi tape? Fancy hand-lettered boxes? Who the hell has the time?) I know that a lot of folks doing bujo also scrapbook, which is another thing I do not do, and that the pages looking pretty was important to them. Fortunately, my friend Debbie is – like me – a person to whom function is generally more important than form.

She showed me her disc-bound planner/bujo one day while driving me to an appointment, and that tipped me over the line. It was neat; it was no frills; it was totally functional for her needs. I had used something similar to a disc-bound book since the 1980s (remember Day-Timers?), so the concept of a book that I could easily add pages to or move pages around was not unpleasant.

Also fortunately, I live six blocks from a Staples, so I was able to get a disc-bound planner with the “planner” function set up the way I like. I was also able to get blank pages and a set of larger discs, which I knew I would need (I tend to use my journals instead of scrapbooks, which means in addition to any writing or drawing, there are also pages with ticket stubs and various other memorabilia attached (purple glue-sticks have been my friend since they came out).

So in addition to the planner itself, I have been doing my gratitude journaling there, tracking my progress in getting my walking range back, keeping a list of bills paid and a list of books I’ve read this year, and I have just added a habit tracker similar to the one my friend Debbie uses, although I just check off boxes instead of using a highlighter to fill them in.

So, as I said, I have been bitten by the bujo bug, but in a way that works for me. Will update if/when I make other changes.

Oh, and for those interested, Debbie’s blog, Steadily On, is here.

Advertisements

Writing for the Web*

I learned grammar in the 1950’s/1960’s. We parsed (diagrammed) sentences. We learned that complex compound sentences were the mark of educated people. We used colons, semi-colons, ellipses, etc.; and revered the Oxford comma. Our sentences were full of filler (we called it “nuance”). Unmodified nouns (except for proper names) were rare.

That was then.

In many ways, writing is now taught 100% differently from then. Concise, pithy sentences are the goal. Writers avoid adverbs when possible. Adjectives are for those getting paid by the word for fiction. The less punctuation needed to make a sentence clear, the better.

Do I like it? Not one bit! Do I follow these guidelines when web writing? You bet your sweet hiney I do.

The truth is, whether we writers want to admit it or not, good web writing is different from other types of good writing.

GOOD WEB WRITING HAS A SPECIFIC PURPOSE

Good web writing aims to get the reader to do something: order a product, click on a link, share something on social media. Web writing is the textual equal of sound bites. It breaks up ideas with “calls to action.”

A FEW WORDS ABOUT KEYWORDS

Good web writing also utilizes Search Engine Optimization. This is using keywords, or keyword phrases, to cause search engines like Google to recognize your work. This practice is part art, part statistics. You want to use keywords that are the things your audience will use to search for your product or service. However, you want to use them judiciously, so you don’t trip the search engines’ algorithms against keyword stuffing. You also need to know what your client wants. While most clients want a 2-3% keyword density, there is always the chance they will want a different amount. Not adhering to the client’s preference can get your work rejected.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE ATTITUDE

Good web writing is also relentlessly positive in nature. You do not ignore issues.  You just find positive ways to state them. “Our hotel is perfect for when your family wants a quiet getaway,” as opposed to “Our hotel is miles from the center of town.”

PROMISES, PROMISES

Another aspect of good web writing is only promising what the buyer can expect. Rather than saying that your pan is nonstick, say that the pan’s surface is resistant to food sticking. Rather than saying it is “heat-resistant,” say your pan is “oven safe up to ‘X’ degrees.”

THE ONE AND ONLY…

The aim of every client is to have you turn out unique writing. This means that even if they provide one sentence product descriptions, they want you to write between 100 and 300 words about their product so that it does not copy what anyone else has written. Your best investment to achieve this is an anti-plagiarism program, such as Copyscape. When I do web writing, I use Copyscape Premium. For $.05/search, it makes sure that when I submit any writing, it will come through as clean. Since plagiarism is one of the quickest ways to get fired in web-writing, I consider Copyscape an essential. There are also free or low-cost applications, like Hemingway, that highlight style errors. If you are considering web-writing as a career, such an app is one of the best investments you can make.

Most companies provide style guides if they have large amounts of work. This ensures uniform results no matter how many different writers are on the project. The most common style is APA (American Psychological Association) Style. You can find out more about APA Style here.

The good news is that proper web writing is not hard to learn. If you learned to write when I did, you may have to break a few habits: Two spaces after a period has pretty much gone the way of the dodo. Few clients want you to use the Oxford comma, but the ones that do are almost religious about it. You can change these habits; your web writing will be the better for doing so.

*NOTE: Just for the heck of it, this post has been run through both Hemingway and Copyscape.

 

 

Post Navigation